Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Post-boom prosperity depends on plan

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Oct. 22, 2013 at 5:22 a.m.

After centuries of drilling for oil and natural gas, Texans have learned an important lesson: For every boom, there will eventually be a bust.

Right now, Victoria and the Crossroads are benefiting from a boom in the Eagle Ford Shale. Our economy is getting a welcome boost from the added traffic and industry that comes with a boom, but after some hard lessons in previous years when booms eventually came to an end, we know Victoria and the surrounding communities must take advantage of this prosperity and find ways to diversify our economy.

We were glad to hear the Victoria Economic Development Corp. say that Victoria is taking steps to prepare for an eventual end to the shale boom. It is good to know that our city leaders are planning ahead. At the moment, Victoria and the surrounding communities are heavily invested in the petrochemical industry. We need more diversification in our area.

Victoria already has a strong medical community through Citizens Medical Center, the DeTar Healthcare System and numerous clinics. Perhaps it's time for the VEDC to focus on building on Victoria's already prospering medical community. Both Victoria College and the University of Houston-Victoria have strong nursing and medical-oriented degree programs. Medical professionals are always needed.

Some industries are already growing. The Invista, Formosa and Ineos plants surrounding Victoria contribute to both the city's economy and to community nonprofits. Invista has a plan to expand near Victoria by building a $500 million facility.

As previous reports have shown, Victoria has a need for more high-paying, skilled labor jobs. The city is focusing on bringing in more companies, and some future developments will help in our hometown's efforts. The proposal for I-69, which would run down U.S. Highway 59, around Loop 463 and then follow U.S. Highway 77, would attract even more companies because of the proximity to the interstate. But even with that added benefit, the VEDC will need to continue to sell Victoria as a destination city for all kinds of business and industry.

We encourage the city's Chamber of Commerce, the VEDC and other development groups to keep pushing toward diversifying Victoria's economy. Our hometown has a solid foundation with prosperous education and training programs, as well as the strong industrial and plant presence. We hope our community can attract even more diverse businesses in the coming years. If we do this right, when the boom ends, Victoria will be able to stand strong and absorb the economic loss with minimal damage or fuss.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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